Ta Sin. These are verses of the Qur'an a Book that makes (things) clear; 3240
A Guide; and Glad Tidings for the Believers 3241
Those who establish regular prayers and give in regular charity and also have (full) assurance of the Hereafter.
As to those who believe not in the Hereafter We have made their deeds pleasing in their eyes; and so they wander about in distraction. 3242
Such are they for whom a grievous Penalty is (waiting): and in the Hereafter theirs will be the greatest loss. 3243
As to thee the Qur'an is bestowed upon thee from the presence of One Who is Wise and All-Knowing.
Behold! Moses said to his family: "I perceive a fire; soon will I bring you from there some information or I will bring you a burning brand to light our fuel that ye may warm yourselves." 3244
But when he came to the (Fire) a voice was heard: "Blessed are those in the Fire and those around: and Glory to Allah the Lord of the Worlds! 3245
"O Moses! verily I am Allah the Exalted in Might the Wise!...
"Now do thou throw thy rod!" But when he saw it moving (of its own accord) as if it had been a snake he turned back in retreat and retraced not his steps: "O Moses" (it was said) "fear not: truly in My presence those called as apostles have no fear 3246 3247
"But if any have done wrong and have thereafter substituted good to take the place of evil truly I am Oft-Forgiving Most Merciful. 3248
"Now put thy hand into thy bosom and it will come forth white without stain (or harm): (these are) among the nine Signs (thou wilt take) to Pharaoh and his people: for they are a people rebellious in transgression. 3249 3250
But when our Signs came to them that should have opened their eyes they said: "This is sorcery manifest!" 3251
And they rejected those Signs in iniquity and arrogance though their souls were convinced thereof: so see what was the end of those who acted corruptly!
We gave (in the past) knowledge to David and Solomon: and they both said: "Praise be to Allah Who has favored us above many of His servants who believe!" 3252 3253
And Solomon was David's heir. He said: "O ye people! we have been taught the speech of Birds and on us has been bestowed (a little) of all things: this is indeed Grace manifest (from Allah)." 3254 3255 3256
And before Solomon were marshalled his hosts of Jinns and men and birds and they were all kept in order and ranks. 3257
At length when they came to a (lowly) valley of ants one of the ants said: "O ye ants get into your habitations lest Solomon and his hosts crush you (under foot) without knowing it." 3258
So he smiled amused at her speech; and he said: "O my Lord! so order me that I may be grateful for Thy favors which Thou hast bestowed on me and on my parents and that I may work the righteousness that will please Thee: and admit me by Thy Grace to the ranks of Thy righteous Servants." 3259 3260 3261
And he took a muster of the Birds; and he said: "Why is it I see not the Hoopoe? Or is he among the absentees? 3262
"I will certainly punish him with a severe Penalty or execute him unless he bring me a clear reason (for absence)."
But the Hoopoe tarried not far: he compassed (territory) which thou hast not compassed and I have come to thee from Saba with tidings true. 3263
"I found (there) a woman ruling over them and provided with every requisite; and she has a magnificent throne. 3264 3265
"I found her and her people worshipping the sun besides Allah: Satan has made their deeds seem pleasing in their eyes and has kept them away from the Path so they receive no guidance 3266
"(Kept them away from the Path) that they should not worship Allah Who brings to light what is hidden in the heavens and the earth and knows what ye hide and what ye reveal. 3267
"Allah! there is no god but He! Lord of the Throne Supreme!" 3268
(Solomon) said: "Soon shall we see whether thou hast told the truth or lied! 3269
"Go thou with this letter of mine and deliver it to them: then draw back from them and (wait to) see what answer they return"...
(The Queen) said: "Ye chiefs! here is delivered to me a letter worthy of respect.
"It is from Solomon and is (as follows): `In the name of Allah Most Gracious Most Merciful: 3270
" `Be ye not arrogant against me but come to me in submission to the true Religion.' "
She said: "Ye chiefs! advise me in (this) my affair: no affair have I decided except in your presence."
They said: "We are endued with strength and given to vehement war: but the command is with thee; so consider what thou wilt command."
She said: "Kings when they enter a country despoil it and make the noblest of its people its meanest: thus do they behave. 3271
"But I am going to send him a present and (wait) to see with what (answer) return (my) ambassadors."
How when (the embassy) came to Solomon he said: "Will ye give me abundance in wealth? But that which Allah has given me is better than that which He has given you! Nay it is ye who rejoice in your gift! 3272
"Go back to them and be sure we shall come to them with such hosts as they will never be able to meet: we shall expel them from there in disgrace and they will feel humbled (indeed)."
He said (to his own men): "Ye Chiefs! which of you can bring me her throne before they come to me in submission?" 3273
Said an Ifrit of the Jinns: "I will bring it to thee before thou rise from thy Council: indeed I have full strength for the purpose and may be trusted." 3274
Said one who had knowledge of the Book: "I will bring it to thee within the twinkling of an eye!" Then when (Solomon) saw it placed firmly before him he said: "This is by the grace of my Lord! to test me whether I am grateful or ungrateful! And if any is grateful truly his gratitude is (a gain) for his own soul; but if any is ungrateful truly my Lord is Free of All Needs Supreme in Honor!" 3275 3276 3277
He said: "Transform her throne out of all recognition by her: let us see whether she is guided (to the truth) or is one of those who receive no guidance." 3278
So when she arrived she was asked "Is this thy throne?" She said "It was just like this; and knowledge was bestowed on us in advance of this and we have submitted to Allah (in Islam)." 3279
And he diverted her from the worship of others besides Allah: for she was (sprung) of a people that had no faith. 3280
She was asked to enter that lofty Palace: but when she saw it she thought it was a lake of water and she (tucked up her skirts) uncovering her legs. He said. "This is but a palace paved smooth with slabs of glass." She said: "O my Lord! I have indeed wronged my soul: I do (now) submit (in Islam) with Solomon to the Lord of the Worlds." 3281 3282
We sent (aforetime) to the Thamud their brother Salih saying "Serve Allah": but behold they became two factions quarrelling with each other. 3283
He said: "O my people! why ask ye to hasten on the evil in preference to the good? If only ye ask Allah for forgiveness ye may hope to receive mercy." 3284
They said: "Ill omen do we augur from thee and those that are with thee." He said: "Your ill omen is with Allah; yea ye are a people under trial." 3285
There were in the City nine men of a family who made mischief in the land and would not reform. 3286
They said: "Swear a mutual oath by Allah that we shall make a secret night attack on him and his people and that we shall then say to his heir (when he seeks vengeance): `We were not present at the slaughter of his people and we are positively telling the truth.' " 3287
They plotted and planned but We too planned even while they perceived it not. 3288
Then see what was the end of their plot! this, that we destroyed them and their people all (of them).
Now such were their houses in utter ruin because they practiced wrongdoing Verily in this is a Sign for people of knowledge.
And We saved those who believed and practiced righteousness.
We also sent Lut (as an apostle): behold he said to his people "Do ye do what is shameful though ye see (its iniquity)? 3289
"Would ye really approach men in your lusts rather than women? Nay ye are a people (grossly) ignorant!" 3290
But his people gave no other answer but this: they said "Drive out the followers of Lut from your city: these are indeed men who want to be clean and pure!" 3291
But We saved him and his family except his wife: her We destined to be of those who lagged behind.
And We rained down on them a shower (of brimstone): and evil was the shower on those who were admonished (but heeded not)!
Say: Praise be to Allah and Peace on His servants whom He has chosen (for his Message). (Who) is better? Allah or the false gods they associate with Him? 3292
Or who has created the heaven and the earth and who sends you down rain from the sky? Yea with it We cause to grow well-planted orchards full of beauty and delight: it is not in your power to cause the growth of the trees in them. (Can there be another) god besides Allah? Nay they are a people who swerve from justice. 3293 3294
Or who has made the earth firm to live in; made rivers in its midst; set thereon mountains immovable; and made a separating bar between the two bodies of flowing water? (Can there be another) god besides Allah? Nay most of them know not. 3295 3296
Or who listens to the (soul) distressed when it calls on Him and who relieves its suffering and makes you (mankind) inheritors of the earth? (Can there be another) god besides Allah? Little it is that ye heed! 3297 3298
Or who guides you through the depths of darkness on land and sea and who sends the winds as heralds of glad tidings going before His mercy? (Can there be another) god besides Allah? high is Allah above what they associate with Him! 3299
Or who originates Creation then repeats it and who gives you sustenance from heaven and earth? (Can there be another) god besides Allah? Say "Bring forth your argument if ye are telling the truth!" 3300 3301 3302
Say: None in the heavens or on earth except Allah knows what is hidden: nor can they perceive when they shall be raised up (for Judgment). 3303
Still less can their knowledge comprehend the Hereafter: nay they are in doubt and uncertainty thereanent; nay they are blind thereunto! 3304
The Unbelievers say: "What! when we become dust we and our fathers--shall we really be raised (from the dead)?
"It is true we were promised this we and our fathers before (us): these are nothing but tales of the ancients."
Say: "Go ye through the earth and see what has been the end of those guilty (of sin)." 3305
But grieve not over them nor distress thyself because of their plots. 3306
They also say: "When will this promise (come to pass)? (Say) if ye are truthful."
Say: "It may be that some of the events which ye wish to hasten on may be (close) in your pursuit!" 3307
But verily thy Lord is full of grace to mankind: yet most of them are ungrateful.
And verily thy Lord knoweth all that their hearts do hide as well as all that they reveal.
Nor is there aught of the Unseen in heaven or earth but is (recorded) in a clear record. 3308
Verily this Qur'an doth explain to the Children of Israel most of the matters in which they disagree. 3309
And it certainly is a Guide and Mercy to those who believe.
Verily thy Lord will decide between them by His Decree: and He is Exalted in Might All-Knowing. 3310
So put thy trust in Allah: for thou art on (the Path of) manifest Truth.
Truly thou canst not cause the Dead to listen nor canst thou cause the Deaf to hear the call (especially) when they turn back in retreat. 3311
Nor canst thou be a guide to the Blind (to prevent them) from straying; only those wilt thou get to listen who believe in Our Signs and they will bow in Islam.
And when the Word is fulfilled against them (the unjust) We shall produce from the earth a beast to (face) them: he will speak to them for that mankind did not believe with assurance in our Signs. 3312 3313
One Day We shall gather together from every people a troop of those who reject Our Signs and they shall be kept in ranks
Until when they come (before the Judgment-Seat) Allah will say: "Did ye reject My Signs though ye comprehended them not in knowledge or what was it ye did?" 3314
And the Word will be fulfilled against them because of their wrongdoing and they will be unable to speak (in plea). 3315
See they not that We have made the Night for them to rest in and the Day to give them light? Verily in this are Signs for any people that believe! 3316
And the Day that the Trumpet will be sounded then will be smitten with terror those who are in the heavens and those who are on earth except such as Allah will please (to exempt): and all shall come to His (Presence) as beings conscious of their lowliness. 3317
Thou seest the mountains and thinkest them firmly fixed: but they shall pass away as the clouds pass away: (such is) the artistry of Allah Who disposes of all things in perfect order: for He is well-acquainted with all that ye do. 3318 3319
If any do good good will (accrue) to them therefrom; and they will be secure from terror that Day.
And if any do evil their faces will be thrown headlong into the Fire: "Do ye receive a reward other than that which ye have earned by your deeds?" 3320 3321
For me I have been commanded to serve the Lord of this City Him Who has sanctified it and to Whom (belong) all things: and I am commanded to be of those who bow in Islam to Allah's Will 3322
And to rehearse the Qur'an: and if any accept guidance they do it for the good of their own souls and if any stray say: "I am only a Warner." 3323
And say: "Praise be to Allah Who will soon show you His Signs so that ye shall know them"; and thy Lord is not unmindful of all that ye do. 3324 3325
See n. 3137 to xxvi. 1.
Revelation is here presented in three aspects: (1) it explains things, the attributes of Allah, our own position, and the world around; (2) it directs us to right conduct and keeps us from evil; and (3) to those who have Faith and accept its guidance, it gives the good news of forgiveness, purification, and the achievement of salvation.
Those who reject Allah and follow Evil have a good conceit of themselves. Their deeds are pleasing to no one else. As they have rejected Allah's guidance, they are allowed to hug their own self-conceit, and given further respite for repentance. But they follow their own whims and wander about in distraction, as they have no standards such as guide the godly.
The account will then be made up, and they will be found to be terribly in loss. They will be the worst in loss, for all their self-complacency.
Cf. xx. 9-24. Both there and here there is a reference to the dawn of Revelation in the heart of Moses. The points there emphasised will be found in the notes to that passage. Here the emphasis is on the wonderful nature of the Fire and the wonderful way in which Moses was transformed at the touch of the Light. He was travelling in the Sinai desert with his family. Seeking ordinary light, he came upon a Light which took him to the highest signs of Allah. No doubt all his inner history had prepared him for his great destiny. It is the inner history that matters, and not the place or position of a man in the eyes of his ordinary fellows.
Those: in the original the pronoun is in the singular, "man", which is often used with a plural meaning.
Moses was now transported into an entirely new world. What he had taken to be an ordinary fire was a gleam of the heavenly light. His own rod or staff was no longer the dead piece of wood that had hitherto supported him. It became instinct with life, a life that moved, and had the power of offence and defence in it, as all living Good must have in its fight with Evil. His own transformation is described in the next note.
In this great, new, wonderful world, that was opening out to Moses, he had to get his vision adjusted to his new surroundings, as an ordinary man has to adjust his sight before he can see in any very strong light that is new to him. The staff which had become alive as a snake frightened him: yet it was to be his own instrument of work in his new mission. All fear was to be cast out of his mind, as befitted a man chosen by Allah.
His slaying the Egyptian (n. 3146 to xxvi. 14), however defensible from certain aspects, was yet something from his past that had to be washed off, and Allah, Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful, did it out of His abounding Grace. Nay, more; he was given a pure, Radiant Hand, as a Sign from Allah, as stated in the next verse.
Cf. xx. 22. There the expression is: "Draw thy hand close to thy side." As far as the physical act is concerned, the expressions there and here mean the same thing. Moses had a loose-fitting robe. If he put his hand within the folds of the robe, it would go to his bosom on the side of his body opposite to that from which his hand came; i.e., if it was his right hand it would go to the left side of his bosom. The hand comes out white and radiant, without a stain. Ordinarily if the skin becomes white it is a sign of disease or leprosy. Here it was the opposite. It was a sign of radiance and glory from the higher Light.
The nine Signs: see n. 1091 to vii. 133.
The Signs should have clearly opened the eyes of any persons who honestly examined them and thought about them. Those who rejected them were perverse and were going against their own light and inner conviction. That was the aggravating feature of their sin.
Cf. xxi. 78-82. "Knowledge" means such knowledge as leads up to the higher things in life, the Wisdom that was shown in their decisions and judgments, and the understanding that enabled them to fulfil their mission in life. They were both just men and prophets of Allah. The Bible, as we have it, is inconsistent: on the one hand it calls David "a man after God's own heart" (I Samuel, xiii. 14, and Acts xiii. 22); and the Christians acclaim Christ as a son of David; but on the other hand, horrible crimes are ascribed to him, which, if he had committed them, would make him a monster of cruelty and injustice. About Solomon, too, while he is described as a glorious king, there are stories of his lapses into sin and idolatry. The Muslim teaching considers them both to be men of piety and wisdom, and high in spiritual knowledge.
They ascribed, as was proper, their knowledge, wisdom, and power to the only true Source of all good, Allah.
The point is that Solomon not only inherited his father's kingdom but his spiritual insight and the prophetic office, which do not necessarily go from father to son.
Speech of Birds. The spoken word in human speech is different from the means of communication which birds and animals have between each other. But no man can doubt that they have means of communication with each other, if he only observes the orderly flight of migratory birds or the regulated behaviour of ants, bees, and other creatures who live in communities. The wisdom of Solomon consisted in understanding these things-in the animal world and in the lower fringes of human intelligence.
"Everything": Solomon was a king of power and authority; outside his kingdom he had influence among many neighbouring peoples; he had knowledge of birds, and beasts and plants; he was just and wise, and understood men; and above all, he had spiritual insight, which brought him near to Allah. Thus he had something of all kinds of desirable gifts. And with true gratitude he referred them to Allah, the Giver of all gifts.
Besides the literal meaning, there are two symbolical meanings. (1) All his subjects of varying grades of intelligence, taste, and civilization, were kept in due order and cooperation, by his discipline, justice, and good government. (2) The gifts of various kinds, which he possessed (see last note), he used in proper order and coordination, as if they were a well disciplined army, thus getting the best possible results from them.
This verse and the next, read together, suggest the symbolical meaning as predominant. The ant, to outward appearance, is a very small and humble creature. In the great pomp and circumstances of the world, she (generic feminine in Arabic) may be neglected or even trampled on by a people who mean her no harm. Yet, by her wisdom, she carries on her own life within her own sphere ("habitations") unmolested, and makes a useful contribution to the economy of the world. So there is room for the humblest people in the spiritual world.
The counterpart to the position of the humble ant is the position of a great king like Solomon. He prays that his power and wisdom and all other gifts may be used for righteousness and for the benefit of all around him. The ant being in his thoughts, we may suppose that he means particularly in his prayer that he may not even unwittingly tread on humble beings in his preoccupations with the great things of the world.
The righteousness which pleases the world is often very different from the righteousness which pleases Allah. Solomon prays that he may always take Allah's Will as his standard, rather than the standards of men.
In the Kingdom of Allah, righteousness is the badge of citizenship. And although there are great and noble grades (see n. 586 to iv. 69), the base of that citizenship is the universal brotherhood of righteousness. The greatest in that Kingdom are glad and proud to pray for that essential badge.
Solomon was no idle or easy-going king. He kept all his organisation strictly up to the mark, both his armies literally and his forces (metaphorically). His most mobile arm was the Birds, who were light on the wing and flew and saw everything like efficient scouts. One day he missed the Hoopoe in his muster. The Hoopoe is a light, graceful creature, with elegant plumage of many colours, and a beautiful yellow crest on his head, which entities him to be called a royal bird.
Saba may reasonably be identified with the Biblical Sheba (I Kings x. 1-10). It is further referred to in the Sura called after its name: xxxiv. 15-20. It was a city in Yemen, said to have been three days' journey (say 50 miles) from the city of San'a. A recent German explorer, Dr. Hans Helfritz, claims to have located it in what is now Hadhramaut territory. The famous dam of Maarib made the country very prosperous, and enabled it to attain a high degree of civilization ("provided with every requisite" in the next verse). The Queen of Sheba therefore rightly held up her head high until she beheld the glories of Solomon.
The Queen of Sheba (by name Bilqis in Arabian tradition) came apparently from Yemen, but she had affinities with Abyssinia and possibly ruled over Abyssinia also. The Habasha tribe (after whom Abyssinia was named) came from Yemen. Between the southern coast of Yemen and the north-eastern coast of Abyssinia there are only the Straits of Bab-al-Mandab, barely twenty miles across. In the 10th or llth century B.C. there were frequent invasions of Abyssinia from Arabia, and Solomon's reign of 40 years is usually synchronised with B.C. 992 to 952. The Sabaean and Himyarite alphabets in which we find the south Arabian pre-Islamic inscriptions, passed into Ethiopic, the language of Abyssinia. The Abyssinians possess a traditional history called "The Book of the Glory of Kings" (Kebra Nagast), which has been translated from Ethiopic into English by Sir E.A. Wallis Budge (Oxford, 1932). It gives an account of the Queen of Sheba and her only son Menyelek I, as founders of the Abyssinian dynasty.
Provided with every requisite: I take this to refer not only to the abundance of spices and gems and gold in her country, but to sciences and arts, as well.
The ancient religion of the people of Saba (the Himyar or Sabaeans) consisted in the worship of the heavenly bodies, the sun, the planets, and the stars. Possibly the cult was connected with that of Chaldaea, the home-land of Abraham: see vi. 75-79 and notes thereon. Yemen had easy access to Mesopotamia and the Persian Gulf by way of the sea, as well as with Abyssinia. That accounts for the Christians of Najran and the Jewish dynasty of kings (e.g. Zu-Nuwas, d. 525 A.D.) who persecuted them in the century before Islam,-also for the Christian Abyssinian Governor Abraha and his discomfiture in the year of the Prophet's birth (S.cv.), say 570 A.D. Jewish-Christian influences were powerful in Arabia in the sixth century of the Christian era. The religion of these Sabaeans (written in Arabic with a Sin) should not be confounded with that of the Sabians (with a Sad), as to whom see n. 76 to ii. 62.
The false worship of the Sabaeans is here exposed in three ways: (1) that they were self-satisfied with their own human achievements, instead of looking up to Allah; and (2) that the light of the heavenly bodies which they worshipped was only dependent on the true Light of Allah, which extends over heaven and earth; the Creator should be worshipped rather than His Creation; and (3) Allah knows the hidden secrets of men's minds as well as the objects which they openly profess: are false worshippers really only worshipping their own selves, or the "sins they have a mind to" and are therefore afraid to go to Allah, Who knows all?
The messenger (Hoopoe) is a pious bird, as befits a messenger of Solomon. After mentioning the false worship of the Sabaeans, he pronounces the Creed of Unity, and emphasises Allah's attribute as Lord of the Great Throne, in order to make it clear that whatever may be the magnificence of a human throne such as he has described (in verse 23), he is not in any way misled from his loyalty to Solomon, the exponent of the true Religion of Unity.
Solomon does not doubt his messenger's plea that he has scouted a new country, but wants to test whether he has loosened the rein of his imagination in describing its splendours or its worship.
Solomon expressly begins his letter with the formula of the true and universal Religion of Unity, and he invites to the true Faith the new people with whom he establishes honourable relations, not for worldly conquest but for the spreading of the Light of Allah.
The character of Queen Bilqis, as disclosed here, is that of a ruler enjoying great wealth and dignity, and the full confidence of her subjects. She does nothing without consulting her Council, and her Council are ready to carry out her commands in all things. Her people are manly, loyal, and contented, and ready to take the field against any enemy of their country. But their queen is prudent in policy, and is not willing to embroil her country in war. She has the discrimination to see that Solomon is not like ordinary kings who conquer by violence. Perhaps in her heart she has a ray of the divine light already, though her people are yet Pagans. She wishes to carry her people with her in whatever she does, because she is as loyal to them as they are to her. An exchange of presents would probably establish better relations between the two kingdoms. And perhaps she anticipates some spiritual understanding also, a hope which was afterwards realised. In Bilqis we have a picture of womanhood, gentle, prudent, and able to tame the wider passions of her subjects.
Poor Bilqis! she thought she had arranged with womanly tact to conciliate Solomon, and at the same time pacify her warlike subjects! But the effect of the embassy with presents was the very opposite. Solomon took it as an insult that she should send her presents instead of her submission to the true Religion! He flung back the presents at her, as much as to say, "Let these baubles delight your own hearts! Allah has blessed me with plenty of worldly goods, and something infinitely better, viz.; His Light and Guidance! Why do you say nothing about that?"
The throne is symbolical of power and dignity. So far her throne was based on material wealth: Solomon is going to alter it to a basis of Faith and the Religion of Unity.
Ifrit: a large, powerful jinn.
Solomon was thankful to Allah that he had men endowed with such power, and he had the throne of Bilqis transported to his Court and transformed as he desired, without Bilqis even knowing it.
If Solomon had been ungrateful to Allah, i.e., if he had worked for his own selfish or worldly ends, he could have used the brute strength of 'Ifrit to add to his worldly strength and glory. Instead of it he uses the higher magic of the Book,-Of the Spirit-to transform the throne of Bilqis for her highest good, which means also the highest good of her subjects, by the divine Light. He had the two alternatives, and he chooses the better, and he thus shows his gratitude to Allah for the Grace He had given him.
Man's gratitude to Allah is not a thing that benefits Allah, for Allah is high above all needs: it benefits a man's own soul and gives him higher rank in the life to come. Per contra, man's ingratitude will not detract from Allah's Glory and Honour or the value of Allah's generous gifts to man: for Allah is supreme in honour, glory, and generosity. Karim in Arabic involves all three significations.
The throne having been disguised, it will be a test to see whether Bilqis recognises it as her own or not.
Bilqis stands the test. She knows it was her throne, yet not exactly the same, for it was now much better. And she is proud of her good fortune, and acknowledges, for herself and her people, with gratitude, the light which was given to them by Allah, by which they recognised Allah's prophet in Solomon, and received the true Religion with all their will and heart and soul.
Some Commentators and Translators adopt an alternative construction for the last clause of the last verse and the first clause of this verse. They understand the former to be spoken by Solomon and to mean, 'we had knowledge of Allah's Message and accepted it before her.' They understand the latter to mean, 'the worship of others besides Allah diverted her (from the true Religion).' If we accept the construction adopted in this Translation, the visit to Solomon confirmed the true Faith of Bilqis and prevented her from lapsing into her ancestral false worship.
Bilqis, having been received with honour on her arrival, and having accepted the transformation of her throne, placed presumably in an outer building of the Palace, is asked to enter the great Palace itself. Its floor was made of slabs of smooth polished glass, that glistened like water. She thought it was water, and tucked up her clothes to pass through it, showing her bare feet and ankles. This was a very undignified position for a woman, especially one of the position of a Queen. Solomon immediately told her the real facts, when she felt grateful, and joined herself with Solomon in praising Allah.
A gentle leader points out the truth. Instead of resenting it, the new entrant is grateful; acknowledges his own mistake freely and frankly; and heartily joins with the Teacher in the worship of Allah, the Source of all truth and knowledge.
The main story of the Thamud, who were broken up into two factions, the rich oppressing the poor and keeping them out of the good things of life and the test case of the She-camel, will be found in xxvi. 141-159 and the notes thereon. The point here is the secret plot of the nine men against the Prophet of Allah, whose teaching, they thought, brought them ill-luck; but what they called ill-luck was the just punishment from Allah for their own ill-deeds. Their plot was foiled, and the whole community, which was involved in evil, was destroyed.
Cf. xiii. 6. The evil-doers were really hastening on their own punishment by their feuds against the poor. The advocates of justice were not bringing ill-luck to them. They were showing the way to ward it off. Their own injustice was bringing on their disaster.
All evil unpunished is not evil condoned, but evil given a chance for reform. They are on trial, by the mercy of Allah. What they call "ill omen" is really the just punishment for their ill-deeds, and that punishment rests with Allah.
They had made up their minds to wage a relentless war against justice. They did not destroy justice, but justice destroyed them.
A most dastardly plot, because (1) it was to be secret, (2) by night, (3) taking their victims unawares, and (4) because careful provision was made that they should all tell lies together, saying that they knew nothing about it, in order to evade the vengeance which Salih's heirs (if any were left) or his tribe might want to exact! And yet such were exactly the plots laid against the holy Prophet himself.
Cf. iii. 54. Their secret plotting is all known to Allah, but of Allah's just and beneficent plans they know nothing. And the wicked must come to an evil end.
The story of Lut is referred to elsewhere. The passages to which reference may be made here are: xxvi. 160-175, and vii. 80-84. But the point emphasised here is that the crime of the Cities of the Plain was against their own nature, and they saw its enormity, and yet they indulged in it. Can degradation go further? His wife was not apparently a Believer. Her previous sympathy with the sinful people "destined her" (verse 57 below) to a miserable end, as she lagged behind and shared in the destruction of her kinsfolk.
The ignorance referred to here is the spiritual Ignorance, the Ignorance of how grossness and sins that bring shame on their own physical and moral nature are doomed to destroy them: it is their own loss. That they knew the iniquity of their sins has already been stated in the last verse. That knowledge makes their spiritual Ignorance all the more culpable, just as a man consciously deceiving people by half-truths is a greater liar than a man who tells lies inadvertently.
Cf. vii. 82-84. Instead of being ashamed on account of the consciousness of their own guilt, they attack the pure ones with their sarcasms, as if not they but the pure ones were in the wrong in trying to set them on the right way.
Allah's revelation having been described as Light, Guidance, and Mercy, we ought all to be grateful to Allah for vouchsafing His revelation. We ought also to appreciate the services of Allah's Messengers, who are chosen to deliver Ms Message: we ought to send salutations of Peace on them, instead of plotting, as the wicked do, for their removal or persecution, or banishment or death. For these Prophets of Allah undergo every kind of hardship and forego every kind of advantage or pleasure in life for serving mankind. And Allah is truth and goodness, and all our fancies of false worship are falsehoods and evils. Shall we prefer falsehood and evil to truth and goodness?
The order, beauty, and grandeur of the Universe are appealed to. They show unity of design and purpose. How can unjust, ignorant, foolish, heedless, false men think of a multiplicity of gods, or of any god, besides the One True God?
To make a single seed germinate and grow into a tree is beyond man's power. When it comes to a great well-laid-out garden of beauty and delight, no one would think it grew up of itself without a Gardener's consummate art. And the orchard is more than the trees in it: there is design and beauty in their arrangement: proper spaces have to be left between them for the growth of their roots, for the aeration of the soil beneath them, and for the penetration of air and sunlight between their branches. How can any one then think of the wonderful Universe as a whole, without thinking of the far higher Unity of Design, the evidence of the One True Allah?
Cf. xvi. 15 and notes 2038 and 2039. The terra firma, the flowing water, and the cycle of water circulation-sea, vapour, clouds, rain, rivers, and sea again,-all one and yet all distinct, with a sort of wonderful barrier between salt water and fresh water: can man see all this and yet be ignorant of Allah?
Cf. xxv. 53 and notes 3111 and 3112.
Besides the evidence of external nature, there is the still more intimate evidence in man's inner conscience and heart. Allah listens to man's cry of agony and relieves his suffering, and He has given him superiority over other creation on this earth, through his mind and soul. Is man then going to run after inferior beings and forget Allah?
Cf. vi. 165, n. 988.
Cf. xxv. 48, n. 3104. After external nature, our attention was drawn to our inner consciousness; after that, it is drawn here to our social and collective life, in which we use the forces of nature for international intercourse, trade, agriculture, production, and economic well-being generally. In the next verse, we are asked to contemplate creation from its primeval stages, through its intermediate processes, to the final Destiny in a new Creation-a new heaven and a new earth.
Cf. x. 34, and n. 1428.
Sustenance: of course in the spiritual as well as the material sense.
All the arguments point to the Unity of Allah: there is none whatever against it.
The existence of Allah is certain. But nothing else can be known with certainty to our knowledge. He has told us of the Hereafter, and therefore we know it is true. But those who do not believe in Allah,-what knowledge or certainty can they have? Even when it is actually coming, they will not have the sense to perceive it.
The Unbelievers are generally materialists, who cannot go beyond the evidence of their physical senses. As to a spiritual vision of the future, their physical senses would only leave them in doubt and uncertainty, while their rejection of the spiritual light makes them blind altogether to the next world.
Even if the Unbelievers are unwilling to take any doctrine, they have only to observe what has actually happened on the earth, and they will see that evil always came to an evil end, and that Truth and righteousness ultimately won.
Cf. xvi. 127, and n. 2164. 'The righteous need not worry over the unjust. The plots of the unjust can never defeat or deflect the purpose of Allah.
The Unbelievers-or even men of half-hearted faith-may say, "Why worry over distant future events? Take the day as it comes!" But that is a fallacy. Judgment is certain, and it may be that this very hour may be the hour of doom for any given individual. This is the hour of repentance and amendment. For Allah wishes well to all mankind in spite of their ingratitude.
Cf. xxii. 70, xxxvi. 12, lvii. 22.
The Jews had numerous sects. Some were altogether out of the pale, e.g., the Samaritans, who had a separate Taurat of their own: they hated the other Jews and were hated by them. But even in the orthodox body, there were several sects, of which the following may be mentioned: (1) the Pharisees, who were literalists, formalists, and fatalists, and had a large body of traditional literature, with which they overlaid the Law of Moses; (2) the Sadducees, who were rationalists, and seemed to have doubted the doctrine of the Resurrection or of a Hereafter; (3) the Essenes, who practised a sort of Communism and Asceticism and prohibited marriage. About many of their doctrines they had bitter disputes, which were settled by the Qur-an, which supplemented and perfected the Law of Moses. It also explained clearly the attributes of Allah and the nature of Revelation, and the doctrine of the Hereafter.
Decree: hukm: the disputes between rival sects can only be settled by the Decree of Allah,-(1) in the form of a Revelation, as was done by the Qur-an, or (2) by the logic of events, for hundreds of sects have been extinguished and forgotten in the course of time, and (3) in the Decree of Judgment in the Hereafter, when all jarring sects will at length see their errors.
The Prophet's responsibility was to preach and show the way. Men and women of goodwill had faith and accepted the Message. But he was not responsible for the obstinacy and perversity of men who turned away from Allah's Signs and rejected the Truth.
The Word: the Decree or Sentence, the Decision to end the respite and restore the true values of right and wrong in a new world: their cup of iniquity will then have been full.
The Beast will be one of the Signs of the Last Days to come, before the present World passes away and the new World is brought into being. If taklimuhum is read instead of tukallimuhum, it would mean that the Beast would wound them.
The charge against them will be: 'You had no knowledge, and yet you arrogantly rejected My Signs: is that true, or have you any plea in your defence?'
There will be no plea, because the charge will be only too true. The Decree will be passed and executed.
Night, Day, Rest, and Light: both in the literal and the symbolic sense. Any one with a scrap of faith or spiritual insight could see that the Night is blessing when used for rest and a curse when used to cover ignorance or sin; and that the Day is for work and enlightenment, and its misuse is gross ingratitude to Allah. Or, understand Truth and practise Righteousness while it is yet Light and the Message of Allah is here to guide you: for there comes the Night when Endeavour will cease and there will be no room for Repentance.
Arrogance will flee with Ignorance, and Self will see itself in its true place-that of humility and lowliness-when the scales of ignorance fall from its eyes.
This is so in the present phase of phenomenal things, both literally and figuratively. There seems nothing more firm or fixed or permanent than the "eternal hills": yet when the new order of things comes and the new World is brought into being, they will be as flimsy and unsubstantial as clouds. So, in the revaluation of things in the Hereafter persons or things or ideas that seem so great and so firmly established now will pass away like mere fancies and give way to the Reality of Allah.
Atqana: to arrange or dispose of things with art, or so as to obtain the most perfect results. The present phenomenal world and the Future that is to be, all have a definite object and purpose in the Plan of Allah, Who knows perfectly what we are, what we do, what we think, and what we need. Who can praise His artistry enough?
Headlong: it may be that the very things of which we were proudest, which we considered foremost in our present order of the world, will be the first to go into the Fire, as they are but the window-dressing (=faces) of Evil.
There will be no punishment except such as has been deserved by actual conduct in the present life of probation.
The Lord of this City. This was spoken in Makkah say about the 5th year before the Hijrat, when the holy Prophet and his adherents were being persecuted as enemies to the cult of Makkah. So far from being against the true spirit of the holy City of Makkah, it was actually in furtherance of that spirit, which had been overlaid by the idolatries and abominations of the Pagan Quraish. They are told that the new Teaching is from the Lord of Makkah itself, the One True God, Who had sanctified it in the time of Abraham. Lest they should think that it was a local or tribal or narrow cult, it is added that He is not only Lord of this City, but Lord of the Worlds, "to Whom belong all things". It is a universal message; but how sad it would be if the Makkans, among whom it came first, were to reject it?
The duty of the Prophet and his adherents was, first, to accept Islam and become themselves shining examples of Allah's grace and mercy, as they in fact were, and secondly to preach that message and spread that Light to all around. It was not for them to force it on unwilling people: for any who rejected it would find their own spiritual loss in such rejection. But they must clearly warn them of the consequences.
In a few years after that, many wonderful things happened that removed the doubts of the doubters and confirmed the faith of the Believers. They showed how the logic of events proved the true mission of the holy Prophet. Other things some minds may not be able to grasp. But the logic of events is for all to see.
Trials and tribulations, persecution and exile, and the patient endurance and constancy with which they were met by the Believers-all are known to Allah and will be credited to their account.